Beijing's Helping Hand

Last month, President Hu Jintao and China's cabinet formally unveiled an ambitious plan to build a "New Socialist Countryside." Here are some of the goals of this New Deal, intended to narrow the country's rural-urban income gap and stem social unrest:

By 2007, all children in rural areas would receive nine years of free education. A similar initiative that ended in 2000 failed.

A cooperative health-care system is slated to be rolled out nationwide by 2008. Each county government would design its own plan to subsidize farmers' medical...

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